This tutorial has been transcribed from the SLR Lounge Adobe Lightroom 4 DVD Guide, a 14 hour DVD featuring over 130 tutorials for mastering Lightroom.
As we all know, dust spots on our images can be quite a annoying little pests to deal with. Just when you think you have them all corrected, you print out a beautiful 20×30 print of your image and say, “oops, I missed one.” While there are basic tools we can use within Lightroom to remove these dust spot (i.e. the Spot Removal Tool), many times there are still dust specks on the image that are harder to spot. This article will cover an advanced dust correction technique using the tone curve panel, which allows you to see even the smallest dust spots on your image. We originally saw this technique in Photoshop User, which is a magazine we love and recommend. Now, while this technique may be a bit cumbersome to use on every image, it can prove very useful when preparing an image to be enlarged for print, or even when submitting to a competition or magazine.
Process the Image
As we mentioned, first we should select an image that you will want to be absolutely perfect for enlargement or just that image you want to look flawless. After the image is color corrected and has been edited with your basic adjustments, we will open up our Tone Curves Panel in the Develop Module.
Reset the Tone Curve Panel
When making adjustments on the Tone Curve Panel we want to reset the curve by selecting “Linear”. This gives us a straight line from which we can add points to create a custom tone curve. If you have a curve previously applied to your image, be sure to save it before clearing it out.
Next, we must make sure that the point curve is editable so that we can add and adjust custom points. To do so, click on the “edit point” icon on the bottom right of the tone curve panel (as shown above). When you mouse over it, it will say “Click to Edit Point Curve”. If you are seeing the highlight, lights, darks, and shadows sliders (as shown below) then your point curve is not editable.
Create a Dust Curve Preset
Now we will create a Tone Curve preset specifically for correcting dust. Once we have removed all of our dust spots, we will revert the image back to its standard tone curve. To create the Dust Correction Tone Curve we are going to create a point around the first vertical line on the graph and drag it to the top. This point should be set at 10% on the x axis and 100% on the y axis.
Continue to add a point at every at every ten percent, while alternating 100% and 0% on the Y axis, until your point curve matches the one below.
To adjust any point, simply hover over the point and you will see an up and down adjustment arrow, which you can click and move to adjust the point.
Now that we have completed our dust correction tone curve, we are going to save it as a Tone Curve preset. This way we will not have to recreate the dust curve every time we would like to employ this technique. To save the point curve we have created, simply mouse over the point curve options, click and select “save”.
A dialog box will appear where you will create a name for your preset. We have chosen to call it “DustCurve”.
With our Dust Curve applied to the image, you can see all of the dust spots that you may have missed before. Now we can select our Spot Removal tool by hitting Q on the key board or selecting it from the top of the right panel on the develop module.
To use the spot removal tool adjust your brush size to the smallest possible brush that will completley cover what you are trying to remove. The second circle, which is the sampling area, will appear and Lightroom will try and guess an area of the image that matches what you are attempting to remove. If Lightroom does not correctly place the sampling area, select an area of the image that most resembles the area you are trying to clone or replace.
While zoomed in continue to look for dust spots on the image. Best practice is to start from the top left and work your way down, then right across the image.
Once you have gone over the entire image and removed the dust spots, simply zoom out and REMEMBER – return your point curve back to linear or whatever curve you previously had (unless you enjoy pysychodelic vision). Your image should now be back to normal and completely dust free!
The SLR Lounge Lightroom 4 DVD Guide
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